The “gruesomeness and callousness” of a father who hanged his two children in Empangeni last month reduced any value placed on his remorse, said a judge who handed him two life sentences on Monday.Pietermaritzburg high court Judge Philip Nkosi told Nkosinathi Ndlela (38), that it appears cynical that he killed his children — Unamandla (three), and son Sambulo (eight) — because of a “frosty relationship” with their mother, then decided to spare his own life.The reason he gave in his plea explanation sounds “preposterous”, said the judge.Ndlela said he went into the living room and tied two neck ties to the rafter, but then realised that the ties would not hold his weight so he decided not to commit suicide. The judge said there were many ways to kill himself.Ndlela had confessed that on August 10, he picked up his daughter, who was asleep, and hanged her.She suffocated and died. He then went to his son, who was watching television. Ndlela tied both his hands behind his back with a shoelace and strangled him to death with a cable tie. He then hanged him.The judge said Ndlela inflicted the “ultimate emotional” pain on the children’s mother. There was no need to hang the children, especially his son, after he had strangled him.Judge Nkosi said the display of their bodies were designed to attract shock and horror.“I can’t imagine how you sleep at night after such a spineless killing,” he said.It was clear Ndlela’s actions were planned. The attack of the children was unprovoked, brutal and cold-blooded.“There can be no excuse for such monstrous and barbaric deeds. The lives of innocent children were cut short for you to achieve your selfish end,” added Judge Nkosi.He said it is cold comfort that Ndlela surrendered and pleaded guilty.“What you did appears to be an open and shut case to me … the killing of young children is out of control in this country, despite lengthy sentences being imposed by the courts.“The community expects a father to protect his children, not for them to be sacrificed to bad marriages,” said Judge Nkosi.